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Troops Encountered Former Captive By Chance, Commander Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2004 – The commander of the U.S. soldiers in Iraq who found escaped captive Thomas Hamill May 2 said today in Baghdad that his troops came across the contractor by chance.

Thomas Hamill, 43, an American contractor captured by insurgents April 9, was found by members of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment of the New York Army National Guard.

Army Col. Randall Dragon, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team that discovered Hamill, noted to reporters at a news conference that his soldiers had happened upon the 43-year-old Macon, Miss., during a routine patrol.

"I was glad that we were able to participate in the recovery of Mr. Hamill," Dragon said. The U.S. patrol found Hamill in an area south of Tikrit, and area Dragon said the unit patrols frequently.

Dragon told reporters they'd have to speak to Hamill to obtain the story of his escape.

Hamill approached the American troops and identified himself, the colonel said. The former captive then took the soldiers to the house where he'd been held. At the building, the soldiers found and detained two Iraqis who had an AK-47 assault rifle.

The U.S. soldiers gave Hamill water and first aid for his injured arm and transported him for further medical care. He is now at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.

The contract employee was driving a truck for Kellogg Brown & Root when he was captured during an insurgent attack on his supply convoy west of Baghdad. Six other contractors and two U.S. soldiers also were taken during the incident. The bodies of four of the contractors and one of the soldiers have been found; the rest remain missing.

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